A white woman's confused face with math symbols drawn over it, in four separate images

Excuse Me, Florida, How Exactly Can a Math Textbook Promote ‘Critical Race Theory’?

Wait, what?

Florida’s education department has rejected more than 50 math textbooks from its K-12 curriculum, claiming many of them include “prohibited topics,” including what Republicans have erroneously dubbed “critical race theory.”

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What Republicans and conservative media pundits call CRT is, by and large, just discussion of race and racism—including the United States’ history (and ongoing present) of systemic, institutional racism, which they apparently just think we should ignore entirely and not teach children about at all.

Of course, eliminating race and racism from the education system only makes for a dangerously incomplete education. It’s beyond troubling that so many people are fighting to erase these issues from students’ history and literature programs, but now they’re claiming that children are being “indoctrinated” via math? How does that even work?

I’m very curious to know how they think these issues are popping up in math textbooks. but I guess I’ll just have to remain curious because the press release announcing the rejection of all these books does not provide a single example of this alleged woke math or the name of any offending book.

In all, Florida rejected 54 of 132 textbook submissions—that’s 41%, the most in Florida’s history. Of that, the release says, “28 (21 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.” The release also says that (a presumably additional) 14 books (11%) are not included on the adopted list because they “incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT,” and also “do not properly align to B.E.S.T. Standards,” which includes the state’s rejection of Common Core curricula. 71% of the rejected materials were geared towards grades K-5.

Again, there are no actual examples provided for how these math books incorporate these topics, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis accuses them of “indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism,” which is a phrase that seems to be one of DeSantis’ favorites. He used it last summer, when right-wing “CRT” fear-mongering was at a fever pitch, going on to say, “It teaches people to view (race) as the most important characteristic. And obviously if you’re certain races, Caucasian and what not, they view that in a negative fashion.”

This sort of claim is rooted in nothing but white fragility, with white people being unable to comprehend the atrocities perpetrated by other white people, and acknowledge how that has historically benefitted white people over time, without feeling personally attacked. This insistence that we must erase historical racism from school curricula in order to preserve white people’s delicate feelings was already ridiculous (not to mention dangerous). Seeing it extend to elementary school math lessons is just bizarre.

(image: Reddit)


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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.